National Eating Disorders Association

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johnjohn
Scared to talk to my wife about her ED

Hi everyone, first time posting here and looking for some help. I've been having a difficult time talking to my wife about what appears to be her worsening bulimia issues. When I attempt to speak with her about it she says it's my fault that she's that way and brings up very touchy subjects from the past that we've struggled through (with couples counseling and such) saying that since our resolution was a compromise to that issue, it's "my fault" because if it just went 100% her way then she wouldn't be struggling with this. So essentially it's my fault she's hurting herself.

I'm having a hard time convincing myself to keep reapproaching the issue with her because reapproaching means we'll dig up lots of past issues in the process that she already agreed to resolutions on and say that because a compromise was reached, and it didn't go completely her way, it's my fault she's doing this to herself. It would still be worth it if I thought it helped her in some fashion or even that she "heard" my concerns about her eating disorder. But it doesn't seem to make any positive impact at all. I'm just lost on what I should do.

It feels like some hard-core manipulation from my perspective and I find myself starting to resent her for it, even though I don't want to. Basically "don't talk to me about my issues or I'll tell you how you did this. If you want to fix it, and actually care about me, here is my list of demands...". It feels very controlling from my end of both me, our family, and even her being controlling of herself... if that makes sense. Hard to explain I guess.

BobJ48
Johnjohn

JJ
Yeah, I see what you are saying, and see what she is trying to say too. Since she had to "compromise" then it's no wonder that her behaviors are continuing. And since it was you who she had to compromise with, then you are the one to blame. Along with that manipulative therapist too, who "helped" you guys come to a resolution. A resolution that she only agreed to in order to seem cooperative.

Which may seem like a reasonable way to frame things to her, because it sounds like her attempts to comply are really stressful, and you should know by now how she reacts to stress. By turning to her behaviors.

Again, this may feel like a reasonable explanation to her, and there may be something to be said for the psychological mechanics of the thing.
But she really does need to be owning this situation, rather than turning the blame back on you. That's the part that's unfair, as well as avoidant I'm afraid.

Also, it sounds to me like she's not really interested in giving up her ED. Which…she has a lot of company in that. While most people with EDs are well aware of the negative aspects, it's also really common for people to not want to recover. And to be frank, that's something that's out of our control. Threats and pleading usually don't work, which means that it really does need to be their choice.

I also suspect that her "list of demands" revolves around her wanting to continue with her behaviors, no matter how many of these demands seem to be about you.

But like what : if somehow you were out of the picture, then her ED would magically disappear ? No way to tell for certain, but I bet not.
So I'm not sure what the solution is, but it seems to me that she'll need to start being better about owning the situation. And to be honest, if she were to talk with other people who have EDs, they would probably be telling her that too.

As long as you aren't a terrible fellow I mean. You'd know more about that than I do.

But the idea that your wife has an ED, and that you are concerned about it, that doesn't sound unreasonable to me. And shouldn't sound unreasonable to her either.

In any case, not sure how helpful this response is. When so much of the situation is in the other person's hands, then a lot of what happens is going to be up to them. Which is something that she should understand too.